Think of the cyanotype in its current incarnation as a sort of photographic technique for retro types. Invented nearly 170 years ago by Sir John Herschel, the process used iron salts sensitive to light (as opposed to light-sensitive silver) that, when developed, created unusual blue tones in its subject. The process was scarcely used up until the late 1970s when artists and photographers began dabbling in alternative processes, retro-ing it up with the cyanotype and other old school techniques like pre-hipster hipsters (the cyanotype was essentially the ’70s equivalent of the iPhone vintage photo app). The process was long a favorite of engineers, who could easily replicate their work at a low cost, leading to the recurrence of what would come to be known as “blueprints” in the profession. Currently and through Feb. 2, the UCR/California Museum of Photography will present “Blueprints,” an exhibition featuring cyanotypes from as far back as the 1850s and as recently as the 1970s.
“Blueprints” at the UCR California Museum of Photography, 3824 Main St., Riverside. (951) 827-4787, http://cmp.ucr.edu. Thru Feb. 2. Free.